Policeman testifies to holding ID parade in Alex Griffith shooting trial

Superintendent Wayne DeHarte yesterday gave testimony regarding the ID parade where Police Officer Cadet Franz Paul was positively identified by teenager Alex Griffith, who he allegedly shot in the mouth last year.

DeHarte, who is attached to the Criminal Investigation Department, was the rank in charge of the identification parade on the day in question.

The witness told the court that before the commencement of the parade, Paul had offered objections based on the claim that Griffith had seen him and the other persons prior to the lineup and that the seven other persons on the parade did not resemble him. After DeHarte addressed the accused’s reservations, the man agreed to proceed with the event.

DeHarte stated that Griffith, who was accompanied by civil society activist Mark Benschop at the time, was summoned to the office where he was briefed on the process of the ID parade. The witness said Griffith was informed that the person who shot him on May 3, may or may not be in the lineup but that it was his responsibility to identify the said person.

Cadet Franz Paul
Cadet Franz Paul

According to the witness’s testimony, Griffith then asked that the person at the fourth position—where Paul was standing—say the words, “I’m gonna kill you tonight.” He related that the accused complied, following which, Griffith asked that the man take a few steps forward and remove his police cap. DeHarte stated that it was at this point that Paul was positively identified by the victim.

Under cross-examination, Paul’s attorney, Roger Yearwood, asked DeHarte if he would agree that Paul is “thin-boned” and that to be fair in the lineup, all the persons in the parade would have to be “thin-boned” as well. When the witness agreed, the attorney asked if those in the parade would not also have to be of similar complexion to the accused, who DeHarte agreed was brown in complexion.

The attorney put forward that the seven other persons in the ID parade were all substantially bigger in build than the defendant, were substantially taller or shorter than the defendant and were either much lighter or much darker in complexion. DeHarte denied this claim.

Yearwood then questioned whether the witness had found anything alarming about Paul’s claim that Griffith had seen him before the parade. He replied that he had not as he’d known the victim was nowhere around when he’d taken Paul and the others to the viewing room. He however later admitted that he had only received secondhand information and did not know for himself where Griffith was prior to the ID parade.

The attorney suggested that the witness was lying when he said he’d taken Paul to the viewing room along with the other members of the lineup, naming another officer as the one who’d done so. DeHarte denied this suggestion.

The attorney then enquired whether DeHarte was aware of the matter before the parade, noting that it was widely published, to which the man replied yes. He, however, denied having knowledge that Benschop had played an integral role in the matter, and that he had posted a picture of the defendant on his Facebook page prior the ID parade.

DeHarte said the first time he knew that Benschop had any involvement in the matter was when he turned up with Griffith for the parade, though he did not question his relation to the victim.

Yearwood then asked the witness if when the parade was concluded, the defendant had made mention that someone had uttered the words “number four,” which DeHarte said he had heard, but not directly from the defendant.

However, a section of DeHarte’s statement given following the parade revealed that he had in fact recorded the defendant’s claim of the words being uttered in a voice belonging to someone other than the victim or the conductor of the ID parade. The attorney then questioned which one of those “truths” was a lie, as the witness had earlier said that he was telling the truth when he stated that Paul had not mentioned that to him, but also claimed that everything written in his statement was true. DeHarte maintained that what was in the statement was true, even though it conflicted with his earlier claim and maintained that Paul had never related such to him directly. He stated as well that he could not recall whether he conducted investigations after Paul told him he’d heard someone giving prompts as the parade was being conducted.

The matter, which is currently being heard before Magistrate Fabayo Azore, has been adjourned to January 8, 2016, when another witness is scheduled to testify.

Alex Griffith, 15 years old at the time, was shot in his mouth by a policeman who was questioning him about a robbery committed on April 30, 2014 at Freeman Street, East La Penitence.

Paul appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore in June 2014 charged with discharging a loaded firearm at Griffith, with intent to maim, disfigure or cause bodily harm.



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